We all act like jerks sometimes. Often it’s because someone is pestering us with something that isn’t our responsibility, and we hope being firm will make them go away. “I don’t have time for this. I’m not in the billing department and I can’t help you so PLEASE GO AWAY!”

It feels good sometimes, and it seems like it’ll get the troublesome person you’re talking to out of your hair.

The problem is, being a jerk is going to cost you more time and money.

door with a sign that says go awayIf someone mistakenly emails you instead of the company they’re looking for – something that happens a lot at UserVoice – you could easily just ignore them or tell them “Dude, we’re not [insert company name here]. Sorry”.

The problem is, often these people (who are already confused, if they’ve reached you mistakenly) will continue to ask questions. They’ll send you email after email saying “ok but can you get my Zynga poker chips back???”

It’s our policy at UserVoice to spend at least 30 seconds when these folks reach us trying to find contact info for the company they’re looking for. 9 times out of 10, sending someone a contact link for the correct company will end a conversation a lot quicker than just telling them they’re in the wrong place. And hey, maybe later they will need a product like yours and they’ll remember your kindness!

Another example:

writing on the wall that says smileSomeone asks for a feature that you’re unlikely to add. You could respond with “nobody would use it, we’re never going to build that”. But then you’ll get them bugging you further, tweeting out complaints about your company, or defecting to your competitors.

If you clearly explain to them your logic for not building the feature they want, they’re actually pretty likely to understand, say thanks, and go on with their day. (Bonus points if you have them add the idea to a feedback forum, so you can actually quantify the interest in that feature.)

It’s called Return On Investment. Invest negativity and it’ll cost you. Invest in a little positivity and you’ll benefit.

Door photo courtesy of same indifference.
Smile photo courtesy of billsoPHOTO.